UK industry more confident than Europe

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The Independent Online

Britain's manufacturers are confident that business will increase in the next three months, in stark contrast to industrial sentiment in the eurozone, according to a new survey.

The CBI's latest monthly industrial trends survey finds that 29 per cent of UK manufacturers expect their output to increase in the next 12 weeks, compared to a fifth anticipating a decline. The resulting "balance" of 9 points is above the long-term average of 6 but below last month's figure of 13.

The data coincided with new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showing that the number of cars manufactured in August increased by 10.7 per cent to 86,250.

Paul Everitt, the SMMT's chief executive, said: "A manufacturing-led recovery is taking shape with August's automotive output up more than 10 per cent. We are on target to exceed 2010 production volumes this year and with more growth to come in 2012."

The relatively upbeat attitude of Britain's manufacturers contrasts with much of Europe. Chris Williamson, the chief economist of the Markit, yesterday forecast that the eurozone's manufacturing and services sectors would contract in the coming months on the back of research by his agency.

However, economists warned that the fortunes of UK manufacturers remain mixed.

Yesterday's CBI data also reveals a larger-than-expected fall in factory orders in September, as the worsening global economy reduced the demand for exports. The CBI survey finds that manufacturers' order book balance fell to minus 9 this month, from plus-1 in August, putting it well below the consensus forecast of minus 5. The export order book fell particularly sharply, with the balance dropping to minus 12, from zero in August.